How To Pick A Good Hostel

There are several key factors to picking a great hostel. Having stayed in so many of them over the last 3 and a half years, I have managed to come up with a good check list of things which will help you pick a good hostel and great place to stay.

One of the most important things that every hostel should have is private lockers. They are almost always located in your room and have the facility to put a padlock on them. Having somewhere secure to store your belongings and valuables is important, and I personally will not stay anywhere that doesn’t have this facility. Another factor to consider with this is that unless you have your valuables stored somewhere secure like a locker, in the event of any of your possessions being stolen while not in your person, most insurance companies will not pay out.

Socially, in terms of meeting other travellers and other like minded individuals, it is really important in any hostel you stay in to have some sort of common room to hang out and socialise in. A large kitchen, living room, or outdoor area, are key things to look out for. These are the areas that most travellers hang out and are also a good sign of a hostel understanding the needs of its customers. Solo travellers in particular will see the benefit of this as it is the best way to meet other travellers. You also often find that any hostel that has its own bar usually has a great atmosphere. Although not a necessity, if you come across a hostel with this facility, it is generally a good sign.

Free Breakfast is always a good thing to have in a hostel. Any money you can save on food is good. A few things to consider and ask before booking however, are at what time breakfast is served and what the breakfast includes. Some places hold breakfast earlier than others, with a few hostels I’ve stayed at having it between 6am-8am and others 8am-10am. Very occasionally you will find a hostel that has one available until mid day. Any traveller who likes to party or just simply isn’t an early riser may not actually get the benefit of an early breakfast time, although I have been known to force myself to get up, eat, and then go back to bed for an hour! You should also ask what is included in the breakfast. Some places that I have stayed at in Europe in particular consider breakfast to be a few slices of toast and a few selections of cold meat, whereas others would serve a full fry up breakfast, cereal, orange juice, or give a variety of all of the above and more. It really depends on you personally as to what time and kind of breakfast suits you personally but knowing in advance what is on offer can help you decide if that hostel suits what you need or want from your stay.

Laundry facilities are another thing which I find very important as a long term traveller. Although it is entirely possible to live somewhere without them as long as there is a laundrette nearby, I personally prefer to have laundry facilities within the hostel however basic. Normally you will have to pay a few dollars, pounds etc to use the washing machines or dryers but you would pay for it at a laundrette anyway, and I personally prefer not to cart my dirty laundry about with me outside unless I really have to.

One thing that always puts me off a perspective hostel is a curfew. The whole idea of it just makes me feel like I’m 12. I think it is ludicrous to expect any adult to adhere to it, and I will avoid any hostel that has such a thing. I pay for their facilities and I expect to have access to basic services such as access to my room at any time in which I please. I have stayed at hostels in the past though where part of the hostel shuts down at night such as the reception or dining area etc, and although slightly inconvenient at times, it is something I can live with as I appreciate not everywhere has the budget to employ round the clock staff and so on, however I do expect to be able to be able to go out whenever I please and be able to return to my room without the worry of being locked out and having to sleep outside.

Hot showers are another thing which I look out for when picking out a hostel. I don’t even mind cool showers if I’m staying somewhere very cheap but there’s nothing worse than a freezing cold shower. Personally it just gives me a massive headache to start off the day is impossible to stand under for more than 30 seconds at a time.

Another sign of a good hostel is a decent kitchen. Aside from the added benefit of being a good place for travellers to hang out, if you are a backpacker or a traveller on a budget, having good cooking facilities and somewhere to store your food is best if you want to save money by eating in instead of out. Any hostel with an oven is a great sign, although it is not really a necessity. The only downside eating in though is that you can often find that some of your food goes missing/gets stolen, and it is quite hard for hostels to really offer anywhere secure to store your food as obviously fridges etc have to be shared.

Internet access is also something I always look out for when picking a hostel. Most hostels have some sort of internet access or free wifi. For me personally I find it really important to keep in contact with family back home, but internet is also more important for me because I need it for work. Free wifi can save you quite a bit of money if you have your own laptop, but I also just find that in this day age, particularly in city hostels, there should really be at least some basic internet access.

Some good added extra’s that hostels can offer also are such things as a swimming pool, tour desk, or even just a pool table. Anything that offers you the opportunity to make friends and have a good time is always a good sign and will help you make friends quicker.

All of the above are good things to have in a hostel. Not all of them are necessary in order to have a good stay, and it is not necessary to have all of them in one hostel at one time, but if a hostel offers most of the above then it is usually a good place to stay and these are all things that I look for or take into consideration when making a decision on where to stay.banner

5 Responses to “How To Pick A Good Hostel”

  1. Great write up Jane. In this day and age where we are all so connected and security conscious, internet and lockers should be a given.

    I also like the idea of good common areas, I’ll be solo on my trip so want ways to make me some friends on the road.

    • jane says:

      Thanks Chris. Yeah I still don’t really know why there a small amount of hostels out there without lockers especially.
      The common areas are the best way to meet people fairly quickly although I doubt you will have much trouble making friends as you seem pretty cool 🙂

  2. Poi says:

    All good things to look out for. As someone who’s trip is coming up soon I am interested in seeing all the different hostels along the way.

    I didn’t realise some places had curfews, that seems really wierd and kind of ruins the freedom of travelling. Is it common?

    • jane says:

      Yea i’ve never really got hostels which operated a curfew. It’s not a common thing but there are still hostels that operate a curfew so i’d avoid them if come across any.

  3. Dave says:

    great piece jane, sounds like you were talking about bambu!

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